The 73rd Virgin says… Haven’t read the book. I managed to stay engaged in the movie, but not much more. The movie starts with the least interesting of three plots, which involves a noble crusading journalist facing a verdict of libel for his expose of, what else, a wealthy industrialist's nefarious activities. Ham-fisted and dull but short, at least. The journalist now has to accept work investigating the disappearance of a teenaged girl, Harriet Vanger, 40 years ago. This leads to the best parts of the movie including the central plot device of finding clues in old photos. This is well done if not original, as is one character’s misinterpretation of clues mailed to him over the years. The award winning journalist begins the hard work of the investigation with a Google search leading to a tiresome montage with swelling music that would make South Park proud.
Really, nothing is original except the muscular, chain-smoking heroine. I suspect the Hollywood version will make her more supple and take away the cigarettes. Her violent anal rape and subsequent violent anal revenge by proxy hints at something about the Swedish mind-set that I guess I just didn’t need to be made aware of.
The remainder of the plot is clunky and predictable with nothing you can’t see serial killer-wise in BBCs gloomy Wallander series or one of James Lee Burke’s hideously murdered girl-fests, not to mention "Se7en". Near the end the villain even begins monologuing "Incredibles"-style. It’s a good monologue, but jeez.
The likely villains are 1) wealthy, 2) industrialists, 3) Nazis – a trifecta of clichés. 60 years after the last Nazi disappeared into Argentina, the international film community continues to bravely kick their butts, unable to find a new generic group villain on-screen – at least a group that won’t retaliate in real life.
There's lots of good acting, especially Peter Haber as Martin and it's great to see Ewa Froling's haunted face again, so many years after Fanny and Alexander. Otherwise, ho-hum.
Conservative reviewer John Boot reviews the American version here, and quotes Christopher Hitchens,
“Moral righteousness comes in very useful for the action of the novels,” Hitchens wrote, “because it allows the depiction of a great deal of cruelty to women, smuggled through customs under the disguise of a strong disapproval.”